I’ll never forget the day I yelled to my then 3 year old son as he jumped off the chair “We do NOT have time for an Emergency Room visit today!” and thought Oh Dear Lord, I’ve become my mother. If you have kids, I’m sure you can relate.
Our experiences as a child shape us and give us our subconscious and conscious beliefs. They also shape our relationships. How we fight, how we think about money, how we parent our own children, even how we respond (or don’t) to our spouses.
It starts with the parenting. There are four main types:
Authoritarian: children are taught to obey without question. Parents often have the “children should be seen, not heard” mindset. When it comes to rules, it’s very much the “my way is the highway” or “I am the parent and I said so.” kind of thinking. It sounds like “quit crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.” Kids are taught to comply out of fear for the punishment, not out of true respect.
This has high accountability but low acceptance.
Permissive Parenting: children are left to do as they please for the most part. Rules, boundaries and consequences are not enforced very often. The thought patterns here are “kids will be kids”. It sounds like “sure, do whatever you want.”
This has high acceptance and low accountability.
Uninvolved or Neglectful Parenting: children are left to fend for themselves, aren’t asked about their day, and rarely have their needs met. Parenting of this sort may be intentional or unintentional- having a mental illness or lack of education of a child’s development and abilities. It has no sound because parents aren’t there or don’t care enough to ask/respond.
This has low acceptance and low accountability.
Authoritative Parenting: children are taught rules, responsibilities and respect while their emotional needs are met. Rules are explained as to why things are the way they are and emotions are not only identified but also validated. It sounds like “If you hit me with the toy again, we will put the toy away until tomorrow.” When they do it again, they lose the toy as a privilege. “I understand you are angry but that hurts me and it’s not ok to hurt people. You may choose another toy if you can be safe with it.” After the child has calmed down, the behavior is addressed and a healthier way of dealing with their anger is discussed. The reaction is respectful and age appropriate. It helps kids learn natural consequences- a skill that will be vital to the rest of their life. It’s not a punishment based on the parent’s anger. At the same time, emotions are being identified, validated and the kids are being taught how to work through them.
This has high acceptance and high accountability.
Most of us, including myself, were brought up with authoritarian parenting styles. Our parents were brought up with that style and there’s a good chance that unless you researched this before you had kids, you’re bringing your kids up the same way. No judgment!
The only issue with that is that it doesn’t address emotions and most of our lives are run off of emotional signals. Many of the decisions we make are based on emotions felt. How we react to our partner, our children, our boss- all based on emotions. If we don’t learn to regulate those when we are kids and we’re only taught to comply because an authoritarian said so, we become adults who still can’t process and regulate emotions.
Thus, we get into a relationship and we lose our temper, walk away while our partner is still speaking, stop listening and start getting defensive at the first sign of criticism or complaint, we “love” our spouse but only when things are good. We have no self-awareness meaning we don’t know what we’re feeling or why we’re reacting the way we are. We have no spousal awareness- what they’re feeling despite ALL the cues being there or how to react to them. We get angry at our kids for having a meltdown because their communication of an unmet need isn’t ok with us…because of how it looks to other people around us. Read that again.
We can’t teach our children to regulate their emotions because we can’t regulate ours.
All behavior, even in adults, is simply communication of a met or unmet need.
The good news: this is a skill that can be learned no matter what age or stage you’re in! You can learn to face adversity, have perseverance, have empathy, self-regulate, improve relationships and have more success in business just by improving your emotional intelligence! It definitely takes effort and consistent work to rewire your brain like that but it’s worth it! As someone who has worked for over 3 years on this skill, I can tell you it’s absolutely possible and the results are much more calm, satisfying and productive!
I created a course that does just that because as a former teacher, I saw a need. As a relationship coach and parent, I see an even bigger need. If this email resonated with you and you thought even for a second “I think she’s talking to me.” Get in here! It’s going to be a game changer! Cheers to your marriage!